Bush’s Willing Torturers

We now know that legal opinions were merely retroactive cover. The Bush administration's first instinct was toward abuse, writes Ken Gude in The Guardian online.

The more we learn about the Bush administration torture regime the worse it gets. The Senate intelligence committee report released Wednesday outlines specific torture techniques that were in place long before lawyers in the justice department had given the programme its legal imprimatur. The Bush administration layered one faulty assumption on top of another to reach a staggering level of incompetence. But stupidity alone cannot sufficiently explain how the United States became a torturing nation. Rather, an enthusiasm for brutality led the US to emulate Mao and Pol Pot. We became our enemies.

We already knew the Bush administration borrowed techniques from the military training programme called SERE, for "survival, evasion, resistance and escape", first designed to give American pilots and special forces troops a sample of the torture methods used by Chinese and North Korean communists during the Korean war. What we didn’t know was just how quickly the Americans turned to the Chinese communists for help devising their torture regime.

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Ken Gude

Senior Fellow